Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Russian Consul General: CFE Treaty “Hopelessly Outdated”

In case you missed it, Russian consul general in San Francisco, Vladimir Vinokurov, wrote an interesting op-ed on Saturday defending his country’s decision to suspend its participation in the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE Treaty).

Referring to the CFE Treaty as “hopelessly outdated,” Vinokurov argues that while Russia has been “strictly abiding by the letter and the spirit” of the treaty for years, its Western partners, by contrast, have shown “a lack of reciprocity.”

Vinokurov then outlines his case and provides a list of conditions “necessary for restoring the viability of the CFE Treaty,” including:

…the return of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania into the Treaty context; the reduction of the ceilings and holdings of Treaty-limited equipment for NATO countries in order to compensate for the expansion of the NATO alliance; the abolition of "flank" restrictions on Russian territory; working out a common understanding of the term "substantial combat forces" that have appeared in Europe on the NATO side; the coming into force or at least provisional application of the Adapted Treaty no later than July 1, 2008.

But it is an understated yet important point that Vinokurov makes early on that leaves me skeptical of his otherwise seemingly reasonable catalogue of demands.

In mentioning what the suspension of the CFE Treaty means in practical terms, he states:

Russia also will no longer be bound by any limits on conventional armament. But the real holdings of Russian military equipment will depend on the evolution of the situation, particularly on the readiness of the other states party to the CFE Treaty to show adequate restraint from installing missile bases.

In other words, an only slightly veiled threat that Russia might expand its military if other countries (e.g. Poland and the Czech Republic) allow the installation of missile defense bases.

No comments: